This year is different. Unless Ruben Amaro Jr. thinks the Phillies are about to pull off a miracle and jump into contention for a wild-card playoff spot, the general manager can use September to take a look at some of the guys who could help the team in 2013.
In Amaro's mind, with Domonic Brown already in the outfield, Nate Schierholtz about to come off the disabled list and a cast of young relievers in the bullpen, the Phillies are already doing exactly that.
"I don't anticipate bringing very many people to the big leagues," the general manager said Monday. "We need to see the people that are here."
A year ago, the Phillies had five September call-ups.
"It's not going to be much different," Amaro said. "Probably less."
The goal, according to Amaro, remains the same in September as it was in April, and that will influence September decisions, too.
"I really think it's a matter of trying to win as many games as possible," Amaro said. "We're not going to bring people to the big leagues if they are not going to get an opportunity to play. We will only bring them if they have an opportunity to be evaluated because they are playing and contributing. That's really the mantra we have had here."
Brown, of course, is getting the most extended look of his career at the big-league level, while older players such as infielder Kevin Frandsen and catcher Erik Kratz have had a chance to make an impact, and, perhaps, even seal jobs in reserve roles for next season.
With the early-season injury to Michael Stutes and the failure of Chad Qualls, the bullpen has been an auditioning stage since April, with 17 pitchers getting at least one inning of relief work.
It's difficult to tell at this point who is going to pass the examination and earn a spot in next year's bullpen, but lefthanders Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes should be considered at the front of a class that is sure to have some free-agent additions in the offseason.
That brings us to this question: Who are the players in the minor leagues who should get a decent look from the Phillies in the final full month of the season?
The man who has drawn the most attention recently is double-A Reading's Darin Ruf, who hit his 36th home run of the season and 18th this month on Monday.
"He's on the radar screen," Amaro said. "It really depends on whether he can get playing time. It is something we'll continue to talk about."
Manager Charlie Manuel identifies a run-producing bat as a major need on his roster. Nobody in the organization has produced runs better than Ruf this season, but he is 26 and he has had limited time in left field.
"He can hit, and he has a good idea of the strike zone," said one scout who has seen Ruf play a handful of times this season. "But they've got to find a position for him."
Ruf struggled in left field on Sunday night, twice falling down on line drives while also showing limited range. Still, it's impossible not to be intrigued by the power numbers he has posted.
Triple-A Lehigh Valley righthander Tyler Cloyd also deserves a September look, but in order for that to happen, the Phillies would have to move somebody out of the rotation, a move they seem unwilling to make.
The idea of shutting down Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels is ridiculous because they all want to pitch and are capable of handling the workload. Kyle Kendrick is making his case to be the fourth starter next season. Cloyd's chance could come if the Phillies decide to let Vance Worley get a head start on the offseason surgery he will likely need to have bone chips removed from his right elbow.
The Iron Pigs' Justin De Fratus is the only young bullpen arm the Phillies have not seen in the big leagues this season, and that's because he was injured much of the year. He did well in five September big-league appearances last year and could be worth looking at again.
If Amaro sticks to his word, however, it's possible the September call-ups could be restricted to guys such as Hector Luna and Jason Pridie, veteran bench players who played with the team earlier this year.
Appearances by Ruf and Cloyd would obviously be more interesting, but there is nothing wrong with winning remaining the primary September goal.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @brookob on Twitter.